We have talked about root cause analysis before in my blog on the ishikawa diagram. We have also spoken about brainstroming before. With each of these tools you have a risk of developing tunnel vision.
Usually there is pressure to solve the problem quickly so you can get back to work as soon as possible. You are working towards a solution for a specific problem. Once you have found it it is time to get to action. While your solution may solve the problem at it's root cause it can very well lead to unwanted side effects. One way to test your solutions is to use the six thinking hats to evaluate the solutions as a group or you can ask help from the monitor in your team (Belbin team roles).
The origins of the model
In this blog i will give you another tool to analyze root causes and make sure you do not create a new problem by fixing the first one. It is called Kepner-Tregoe analysis. With Kepner-Tregoe you seperate the problem from the decision by using a structured process. Kepner-Tregoe is also known as the Problem Solving and Decision Making process. Kepner and Tregoe developed this model in the 1960's by analyzing people's problem solving skills. They found that people have learned to ask themselves 4 questions to solve problems:
- What's happened?
- Why has this happened?
- What should i do?
- What will the result be?
They based their model on these four questions.
Each of these questions is a process with specific steps to help you solve the problem as rationally as possible.
When to use Kepner-Tregoe
Whenever there are a multitude of problems and possoble solutions it is a good time to start structuring your problem solving by using Kepner-Tregoe. If it is a new problem without a clear root cause, a problem you thought you had solved before or a problem with high costs of failure it is also a very good idea to use Kepner-Tregoe.
I have also found it very helpful when a team or organization was not trained in or used to in depth root cause analysis. Kepner-Tregoe gives structure to problem solving and feels logical. It is easy to use in conjunction with other tools. It makes use of a lot of different talents. This makes Kepner-Tregoe a way of engaging everyone.